Finding Your Place in the Body of Christ

by Chuck Holtry, AFCOE Director

An Amazing Fact: One of the most intriguing symbiotic relationships in nature is that between the yucca moth and the yucca plant. Every species of yucca plant has a corresponding species of yucca moth that is the pollinator of that particular species. Without the yucca moth, the yucca plant wouldn’t produce seeds. And without the yucca plant, yucca moth larvae wouldn’t have yucca seeds to eat—their only food.

The interdependence between the yucca moth and the yucca plant means the survival of both. Yucca moths emerge from their earth cocoons precisely when the yucca plant is flowering. If for some reason the yucca plant doesn’t flower, such as weather, there are always yucca moth pupae that remain dormant until the next spring when the yucca plant is flowering.

Accidental? Not at all. Throughout the natural world, we observe interdependent relationships that could not come by chance or natural selection but only by the hand of the Creator. One Bible commentator put it this way:

"No bird that cleaves the air, no animal that moves upon the ground, but ministers to some other life. There is no leaf of the forest, or lowly blade of grass, but has its ministry. Every tree and shrub and leaf pours forth that element of life without which neither man nor animal could live; and man and animal, in turn, minister to the life of tree and shrub and leaf. The flowers breathe fragrance and unfold their beauty in blessing to the world. ?The sun sheds its light to gladden ?a thousand worlds. The ocean, itself the source of all our springs and fountains, receives the streams from every land, but takes to give" (The Desire of Ages, p. 20).

Hair and Kidneys

As in the natural world, so it is in the human body.

Our body parts are interdependent. The heart needs the lungs, the lungs need the windpipe, and the windpipe needs the mouth and nose. The stomach couldn’t operate without the throat, liver, kidneys, intestines, and colon. While one could look at many more examples, the point is that each part of the body depends on another part of the body to function properly.

The apostle Paul said, “God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’ ” (1 Corinthians 12:18–21). Put simply, God used many body parts to create one body. One body part would never be enough. Each body part, no matter how simple or complex, is needed to make a body.

And as it is in the human body, so it is in the church. In the same letter to the Corinthians, Paul compared the church to a body. (See 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13.) All the members are part of one body. It only stands to reason that we aren’t all fingers or all legs or all lungs. The different members of God’s church make up the different body parts of the body of Christ.

Have you noticed major differences in the personalities in your church? Has it bothered you? Why didn’t God make everyone alike? We were not all made alike for the same reason that our physical bodies are not all made of fingers. Can you imagine a skeleton consisting only of finger bones? Why, if finger bones made up our legs, they would quickly break under the stress of bearing the body’s weight, whether we’re standing, walking, or pushing.

Our Creator built the body in such a way that each part is perfectly suited for its designated work. It is not able to function as well—or at all—in another role, but it works perfectly in the role for which it was intended. “As we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another … [with] gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us” (Romans 12:4–6). Different gifts among God’s people mean different roles in the church for every member. Not all members carry out the same role. God never intended for us to be mirror robots of each other. He created humankind with the immense variety we see around us.

You may say, “I can see the variety in the body of Christ. But isn’t it possible that there is too much variety?” We all can think of someone in our church who says or does things that we would never say or do. And we all can think of church leaders who are loved or loathed because of that. However, as we look back on those leaders of ours, we realize that many of them accomplished a God-given task that someone with a different personality would never have accomplished. Just because we don’t perfectly mesh with someone else’s personality doesn’t mean that God isn’t using him.

Let’s look at it this way: The hair on our head is much more visible than our kidneys, yet our kidneys are much more important in keeping the body healthy. Eliminating waste isn’t something that we typically appreciate; yet we can’t live without our kidneys. They may not smell great—because they are constantly dealing with waste—but we need our kidneys. It is much the same with the body of Christ. Paul was pretty clear when he wrote, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary” (1 Corinthians 12:21, 22).

Another point Paul made in his letter to the Corinthians is that no one should feel his involvement in God’s work is worthless, no matter how the rest of our culture views that kind of work.

Consider phytoplankton. These tiny microorganisms can’t be seen with the naked eye, yet they are the primary source of food for zooplankton. Zooplankton, small marine creatures such as krill, are food for fish, birds, seals, and even whales. If there were no phytoplankton, there would be no zooplankton, and without zooplankton there would be almost no life in our oceans. And from their lowly station at the bottom of the ocean’s food chain, phytoplankton provide 50 to 85 percent of the oxygen that you and I breathe.

Even as phytoplankton is often not recognized for its important role, so many Christians are often passed by as being insignificant to the mission of the church. However, someday we will see that many of the seemingly unimportant ministry roles in our church were the most honored in the courts of heaven.

You Are Needed!

It is time for the church of God to act as a body. It is time for Christians to recognize their place within the body and to honor the place of fellow Christians there. “If Christians were to act in concert, moving forward as one, under the direction of one Power, for the accomplishment of one purpose, they would move the world” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 221).

It is also time for us to recognize the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the mechanic and the minister, the doctor and the doorman, the teacher and the technician. Could it be that God is waiting once again for His people to be “all with one accord in one place”? (Acts 2:1).

So what does this mean for you? Where do you fit into this body of Christ?

It means that you have an important ministry! Just as each body part is designed to carry out its function, each member is gifted in such a way so as to carry out his or her ministry. Being part of a body means that you are gifted in some way. Just as the yucca plant needs the yucca moth and the zooplankton needs the phytoplankton, so the body of Christ needs you. A ministry is waiting for you. It doesn’t belong to your pastor or your parents or your friends; it is yours. “Each has his place in the eternal plan of heaven. Each is to work in co-operation with Christ for the salvation of souls. Not more surely is the place prepared for us in the heavenly mansions than is the special place designated on earth where we are to work for God” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 326.)

May we rise up and inhabit that “special place designated” for us. May we realize the ministry that God has placed in our hands!


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